DeWayne Williamson of Elliott Auto Group

Elliott Auto Group and other businesses are supporting education by rewarding students and teachers. The dealership’s new Teacher of the Month program is now accepting nominations. Above: DeWayne Williamson, General Manager of Elliott Auto Group displays a load of toys the dealership is donating to the Children's Advocacy Center of Palestine.

Elliott Auto Group of Palestine will bring a little more class to Anderson County in 2020 – with a new Teacher of the Month Award.The contest rewards an outstanding teacher from any K-12 school in the area with a $100 gift card and a free car wash.

DeWayne Williamson, general manager at Elliott, said the dealership wants to reward teachers for their hard work. “We want to give teachers the recognition they deserve but don't always get,” Williamson said. Elliott is the latest of a growing number of executives who are making education their business.

The five winners of the monthly contests, from January to May, will compete for an end-of school year contest for a $200 gift card and a free car wash.

Anyone can nominate a teacher for the contest. Letters must describe the difference the teacher is making in the classroom and explain why the nominee deserves the award.

The dealership management and sales team will decide monthly contest winners, but they also invite people to vote for nominated teachers on Elliott Auto Group's Facebook page. Winners will be announced the first Monday of each month, starting Jan. 6.

Other local businesses are also supporting education with incentives for students and school employees.

Allstar Ford offers two scholarships of $2,000 each to graduating seniors at Palestine and Westwood high schools; Palestine Toyota is rewarding seniors' perfect attendance at both schools with a new car giveaway. The Ford dealership also awards four $1,000 Future Farmers of America scholarships to graduating seniors. It has donated funds for LED display boards at Palestine High School and to the new University Academy campus at the University of Texas at Tyler Palestine.

Fernando Varela, owner of Allstar Ford in Palestine, said teachers and students are the country's future.

“For the country to succeed, we have to invest in education,” Varela said. “Small towns have limited resources, so education needs help from businesses.”

Whataburger is recognizing educators in the Palestine schools with a Whatacat program, which invites everyone at a school to nominate an employee of the month. Winners from each campus will compete for free Whataburger meals for a year in 2020.

Programs sponsored by area businesses are “extremely motivational,” said Larissa Loveless, spokesperson for Palestine schools.

“Awards like this build community spirit and teach our kids how to be leaders,” Loveless said.

Elliott Auto Group contributes to other community causes throughout the year, such as sponsoring an event Saturday for Children Advocacy Center of Palestine's Operation Christmas Give program.

Visitors are invited to bring a toy or clothing for the project, as well as see Santa Clause and his Elf from 1-3 p.m. Families can take pictures, pull a gift from a stocking, and enjoy cookies and juice. For information, contact 903-723-3031.

To nominate a teacher for the contest, bring or mail a typed letter to Elliott Auto Group at 2321 State Highway 155, Palestine, Texas, 75803, or email a nomination to cfitzpatrick@elliottpalestine.com.

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